Posted in Early Montclair, East Oakland, Oakland, Streets, West Oakland

Naming Our City Streets

Growing up in Montclair (for me) Thornhill Drive was always just Thornhill Drive. But come to find out it was once called Thorn Road (sometimes Thorne Road). Thornhill is a nicer sounding name than Thorn. But there is a perfectly good reason as to why it was called Thorn Road.

Thorn Road

From the 1878 Map of Oakland,

William J. Dingee 1878 Map of Oakland, Berkeley and Alameda . David Rumsey Map Collection –

The name goes back to 1856 when man named Hiram Thorn (Hiram Thorne) built the road at a heavy expense. Thorn’s road brought redwood logs to Oakland out of the vast forest known as the Moraga Redwoods where he ran a lumber mill on Pinehurst Road. Thorn was later given a franchise to run and collect tolls for the road, it was one of 3 toll roads in Oakland. In 1933 Thorn Road officially became Thornhill Drive.

From the 1870 Oakland City Directory

Since I found out about Thornhill Drive I have been very curious about the names of our city streets. If you are interested you can read more at the Oakland Local Wiki page Street Names.

Oakland had lots of streets that seemed to be name for tress. Like Acacia Avenue Beech Street, Birch Street, Holly Street, Linden Street, Locust Street, Palmetto Street, Pine Street, Poplar Street, Plymouth Street, Redwood Road, Sequoyah Road, Spruce Street, Walnut Street and Willow Street. To name a few.

In the Laurel District there are streets named for the states. The streets are Maine, Vermont, Jersey, Montana, Texas, Ohio (now Dakota) Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas. California and Wisconsin Streets. Maine, Vermont and Jersey are no longer due to the construction of the MacArthur Freeway . I happen to live on Georgia Street.

In Sequoyah Hills, which located in the Oakland Hills above 580, off of Keller Avenue, directly below Skyline Blvd. The streets are named Hansom, coach, chariot, phaeton, shay and surrey are varieties of horse-drawn carriages. Better yet, the theme is a pun, considering the wheel-like arrangement of Shay, Phaeton and Coach streets radiating from Hansom.

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In Montclair there is group of street possibly named for early explorers. The streets are Balboa Drive, Cabrillo Drive, Cabot Drive, Drake Drive, Gasper Drive, Magellan Drive and Mendoza Drive. Another group of streets seem to be named after WW I Generals. They are Liggett Drive, Pershing Drive, Sims Drive and Wood Drive.

The following is a group of articles by Albert E. Norman from the Oakland Tribune in 1960-1960.

Oakland Tribune Jan 1960
Oakland Tribune June 12, 1960
Oakland Tribune June 19, 1960
Oakland Tribune June 26, 1960
Oakland Tribune July 03, 1960
Oakland Tribune Julu 10, 1960
Oakland Tribune July 17,1960
Oakland Tribune July 24, 1960
Oakland Tribune July 31, 1960
Oakland Tribune August 07, 1960
Oakland Tribune August 14, 1960
Oakland Tribune August 28, 1960
Oakland Tribune Sept 04, 1960
Oakland Tribune Sept 11, 1960
Oakland Tribune Sept 18, 1960
Oakland Tribune Sept 24, 1960
Oakland Tribune October 02, 1960
Oakland Tribune October 09, 1960
Oakland Tribune October 16, 1960
Oakland Tribune October 23, 1960
Oakland Tribune Nov 06, 1960
Oakland Tribune Dec 11, 1960
Oakland Tribune Dec 18, 1960
Oakland Tribune Dec 25, 1960
Oakland Tribune Jan 15, 1961
Oakland Tribune Feb 1961

If you have wondered about the name of your street, leave message below and I will check it out.

Links

Oakland related links:

Misc Street Links:

Coming soon Gold Star Streets

The End

Author:

I have been an Oakland history buff since going on an Oakland Heritage Alliance Tour of the Fernwood Neighborhood in the Montclair District of Oakland, in the mid-80's. On that tour, I learned that there use to be a train (Sacramento Northern) that ran through Montclair, in the early 1900's and that people lived the area as early as 1860's. I have been hooked ever since. Since then I have spent a lot of time looking into the history of Montclair and I have learned a lot. I feel this will be the best way to get it out of my head and onto paper.

8 thoughts on “Naming Our City Streets

    1. I thought about Zinn Drive when I was writing this post. It is right in the middle of the streets named after California Explorers. I can’t find anything directly. Rincon Drive which crosses Zinn Drive. Rincon means “angle or corner” in Spanish, which fits. It could be someones last name.

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  1. I’ve always loved the group of street names where I grew up, Merriwood, Robinhood, Crown, and Abbot. It seems someone at that time loved to read adventure stories.

    Liked by 1 person

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